The 4th-seeded Florida State Seminoles fell to the top-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs 72-58 in a rough shooting and officiating night for the ’Noles. While the final score and stats don’t reflect how close this game really was, the fans in the Honda Center could feel Florida State closing in on the ’Zags right until physical and emotional exhaustion set in, sealing the Seminoles’ fate in the final few moments.
Florida State seemingly did nothing to help itself in the first half, playing some very undisciplined basketball, making it difficult to watch at times. FSU turned it over nine times, giving Gonzaga 10 points off turnovers. The Bulldogs also scored nine second-chance points. The Seminoles did nothing to alleviate their inability to take care of the ball, shooting 10-30 (33%) from the field, including just 2-11 (18%) from deep. As the first half wound down, the ’Noles appeared to gain some much-needed momentum and shortened their deficit to eight points. Florida State’s M.J. Walker grabbed a defensive rebound off a Brandon Clarke miss, and the Seminoles moved down the court in hopes of cutting even deeper into the GU lead. Instead, they did the EXACT opposite. Trent Forrest got stripped by Josh Perkins, and he made Florida State pay with a 3-point play after getting fouled by Mfiondu Kabengele on the layup. The ’Zags closed the half up 38-27.
(after that first half, I couldn’t help but share this diamond in the rough):
The Seminoles fought back in the second half, as their stifling defense kept it close. Florida State was just the third team all season to hold Gonzaga below one point per possession, and the ’Noles dominated on the inside, holding the best two-point shooting team in America to just 18-43 (42%), their worst output of the season. Florida State also accumulated nine steals and six blocks.
Coming alive in the final few minutes, the ’Noles cut their deficit to four points at 60-56 with 4:11 remaining in regulation, but questionable officiating combined with more poor shooting, and a Zach Norvell three kept the Seminoles from pulling off the Cinderella comeback. Florida State ended the night just 3-20 (15%) from distance. Forrest was the only Florida State player in double-digits. After putting up just five points in the first half, he played inspired ball after intermission, ending with 20, to go along with 5 rebounds and 4 assists. The next closest Seminole was Christ Koumadje who had just 8 points in just 12 minutes (foul trouble). The Bulldogs struggled with Koumadje on both ends, but his contributions were diminished after finding himself in foul trouble too early.
No words, Trent Forrest:
With seniors Phil Cofer and David Nichols both sidelined, the season-ending outcome wasn’t what anyone would have wished for, but tonight’s loss doesn’t define a spectacular season and sensational group of seniors. Leonard Hamilton’s men never stopped fighting, and they never stopped playing for each other. They truly embodied “18 Strong”. After accumulating the most single-season wins in Florida State history, this 29-9 team has much to be proud of. Win or lose, it’s bigger than basketball. They are forever family.